November 07, 2009

Obama's memo to his Cabinet

Mohawk chief cites hope from D.C. talks

Obama Meeting:  Tribal summit's memo called 'a terrific start'

By Laura Bomyea
The importance of a strong tribal relationship with the federal government was never more clearly illustrated for leaders like St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Chief James W. Ransom than this summer, when new border crossing regulations were introduced and a conflict on Cornwall Island shut down the international bridge for six weeks.

So when Mr. Ransom was in Washington this week to watch President Barack Obama sign a memorandum calling on all federal departments to find ways to improve cooperation with American Indian tribes on a government-to-government level, the chief was thrilled.

He called the signing, and the daylong tribal meeting with top Obama administration officials that preceded it, a "terrific jumping-off point and a welcome change" to the "anti-Indian" policies of the Bush administration.

"It's a terrific start," Mr. Ransom said. "There's a potential to build a strong relationship and we plan to be a part of that."
Comment:  Granted, Obama's memo to his Cabinet members seems to be the most significant outcome of the event. But I would've handled the memo a little differently:

1) Announce the summit and sign the memo. 2) Ninety days later, hold the summit and announce the preliminary results. 3) Negotiate final policies with the tribes on a government-to-government basis.

That way, the summit wouldn't have been just a platform of renewed promises. I.e., a glorified photo op. It would've been a milestone of government policy-making, not a milestone of government showmanship.

For more on the subject, see Obama at the Tribal Summit and Negative Nellies at the Tribal Summit.

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